COLUMN: We Must Utilize Western Colorado's Vast Natural Resources
Western Colorado is home to vast natural resources that can and will power the economy through the 21st century and beyond if responsibly developed. It is the role of the federal government to monitor and manage the development of natural resources, which is why I recently hosted a House Natural Resources field hearing along with Chairman Rob Bishop to explore some of the untapped resources available on the Western Slope and identify the steps that we can take to responsibly utilize them.
During this field hearing, we primarily focused on the abundance of natural gas available in Western Colorado and the proposed Jordan Cove Energy and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.
The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would transfer the natural gas from the Piceance Basin in Western Colorado to the Jordan Cove terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon. The Jordan Cove terminal is estimated to have the capacity to transport 7.8 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas annually to the Pacific Northwest and Asia.
Unfortunately, under the previous Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied applications for the Jordan Cove project and cited a lack of global demand as their reason. Their reasoning was proven false not long after when Jordan Cove procured contract agreements for 75 percent of the pipeline's capacity.
The significance of the Jordan Cove Project only increased in 2016, when the U.S. Geological Survey discovered that the Mancos Shale Formation in the Piceance Basin has the potential to be the second largest natural gas deposit in the United States.
We cannot continue to let this monumental discovery and the many opportunities it would bring go to waste. That's why in 2017, I wrote to the current Administration and requested that they move quickly to reconsider the Jordan Cove Project.
The abundance of natural gas in Western Colorado puts us in a unique position, not only to ensure that the United States remains competitive in a global market, but also to create more jobs here at home. Additionally, the revenue payments from this project could be used to rebuild our schools and infrastructure, preserve public lands and national parks, and overall, make our communities better places to live.
The economy is currently strong, but rural communities on the Western Slope are still fighting to see the same amount of success that cities and communities on the Front Range are currently experiencing. This could be the factor that helps to bridge that divide.
The economy and job creation are not the only reasons for the responsible development of the resources at hand. China and India continue to be some of the world's top polluters due to their irresponsible and reckless energy practices. By transporting responsibly developed resources to Asian markets, we would help to decrease the astonishing levels of pollution that these countries are responsible for.
Like all Coloradans, I place a very high value on our state's natural beauty. I have lived here my entire life, and I want future generations to enjoy this land as I have been able to.
I also recognize that in addition to being a part of our lifestyle, Western Colorado's beauty serves as an economic force, responsible for large amounts of revenue streaming into our communities every year. I remain committed to protecting our land and nothing will change that ever.
However, responsible energy development and the preservation of Colorado's land do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can and must do both. That's why I will continue to hold productive discussions with stakeholders, experts on the topic and those who live in these communities as well as work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help move this project forward in an environmentally sound way.